National briefs: UAB stunned

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 11, 2011

Associated Press
EL PASO, Texas ó Darrius Morrow finished with 22 points, including six in overtime, and East Carolina upset No. 1 seed Alabama-Birmingham 75-70 Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA tournament.
Morrow added 14 rebounds, and Jontae Sherrod scored 22 as well for the eighth-seeded Pirates (18-14), who lost twice to the Blazers in the regular season, including by 18 Saturday.
Aaron Johnson had a career-high 39 points for UAB (22-8) and was 12 of 22 from the field (54.5 percent), but the rest of the Blazers shot a combined 9 of 43 (20.9 percent).
The game went into OT after UAB hit 3-of-4 free throws in the final 13 seconds to tie it at 57. East Carolina then started the extra period with a 16-5 run, and the Blazers never recovered.
East Carolina will face Memphis in the semifinals today.
WASHINGTON ó The tension and stakes rose in the NFL labor talks with only a day left before the twice-extended collective bargaining agreement expires, increasing the possibility of the league losing games to a work stoppage for the first time in nearly a quarter-century.
With the two sides far apart on key economic issues, nine of the 10 members of the ownersí labor committee joined NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday at the office of the federal mediator overseeing the talks ó but, the union said, none of the owners met with any players.
Even though there were small-group negotiations between NFL and union representatives, no one gave any indication that progress was made. Indeed, the loudest words came in the evening, during a series of back-and-forth barbs sparked by league general counsel and lead negotiator Jeff Pashís comments.
ěThings can come together quickly. Things can fall apart quickly,î Pash said when the NFL negotiating team left for the day. ěIíve said it many times: If both sides have an equal commitment to getting this deal done, it will get done. I donít know if both sides have an equal commitment. … Obviously, we have the commitment.î
ATHENS, Ga. ó Quarterback Aaron Murray says his right ankle was pain-free in Georgiaís first spring practice on Thursday.
Murray suffered a mild sprain in a pickup soccer game a couple of weeks ago.
He says he felt great, ěno pain at all.î
The Bulldogs are coming off a 6-7 season, their first losing record in 14 years.
Coach Mark Richt says he liked what he saw from tailback Washaun Ealey, who was suspended three weeks from football activities after reporting late for a scheduled punishment run.
Richt says ěhe busted his tailî and ěgave great effort, probably as good as anyone.î
With spring break beginning Saturday, Georgia will be off the next 11 days. The Bulldogsí spring scrimmage is April 16 at Sanford Stadium.
BOSTON ó Brad Boyes scored 3:44 into overtime and the Buffalo Sabres came back from two deficits to beat the Boston Bruins 4-3 on Thursday night.
The victory put the Sabres in a seventh-place tie with the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference with 74 points and two games in hand. But the Rangers have two more wins.
The Bruins lost their third straight game after winning seven in a row. It was their first since a 4-1 loss in Montreal on Tuesday night in which the Canadiensí Max Pacioretty sustained a severe concussion and a cracked vertebra when hit by Zdeno Chara.
Flyers 3, Maple Leafs 2
TORONTO ó Brian Boucher made 27 saves and Claude Girouxís second-period goal stood up as the winner in Philadelphiaís victory over Toronto.
Andrej Meszaros and Darroll Powe also scored for Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia, playing without top defenseman Chris Pronger because of an undisclosed upper-body injury.
Mikhail Grabovski and Joffrey Lupul scored for Toronto. The Maple Leafs have lost three straight, hurting their bid to climb into playoff position.
Senators 2, Panthers 1
SUNRISE, Fla. ó Defenseman Erik Karlsson scored twice in the final 8:48 for Ottawa and former Florida backup Craig Anderson stopped 33 shots.
Anderson came within 4:13 of his second shutout since being acquired from Colorado on Feb. 18.
Defenseman Clay Wilson scored for Florida.
COLUMBIA, S.C. ó If the stateís only PGA tournament canít quickly find a future sponsor, South Carolina legislators could help.
The state faces the prospect of losing the Heritage golf tournament on Hilton Head Island ó and the tens of millions of dollars it pumps into the economy. Next monthís event marks the first time in 25 years without main sponsor Verizon, which announced 18 months ago its backing would cease after 2010.
The deadline for the tournamentís survival is approaching. A future sponsor must be found soon after the April 21-24 event, said Simon Fraser, chairman of the Heritage Classic Foundation, which hosts the event and contracts with the PGA.
ěIt canít drag out very long,î he said Thursday. ěWeíre diligently looking for a title sponsor. Everybodyís still hopeful. Itís been a longer process than anybody anticipated.î
A bill put on hold for debate on the House floor until at least March 29 is designed to save the springtime tradition, if that becomes necessary. The so-called skeleton bill has no details.
ěThe options are wide open,î said its sponsor, GOP Rep. Bill Herbkersman of nearby Bluffton. ěItís up on deck waiting.î
But any government assistance would meet the opposition of new Republican Gov. Nikki Haley.
ěThe governor loves the Heritage, understands how critical it is to our economy, and is very focused on finding a sponsor. But letís be clear: Under no circumstances should the taxpayers of South Carolina front the costs of a golf tournament,î said her spokesman Rob Godfrey.
As a House member and gubernatorial candidate, Haley led the opposition during last yearís budget debate to the prospect of loaning the tournament $10 million from the stateís insurance reserve fund, calling it a golf course bailout akin to federal government bailouts of car companies and banks. Her argument failed in the House, with Democrats and Republicans saying the Heritage supports hundreds of jobs, adds to local and state coffers, and broadcasts a positive image worldwide of a state that relies on tourism.
ěIt is the face of South Carolina, certainly in the springtime,î Fraser said.
According to a Clemson University study commissioned by the tournament, it brings more than $80 million to the state in spectatorsí spending, jobs and other revenue, with more than 70 percent of spectators living outside Beaufort County.
The tournament, broadcast in 230 countries worldwide the weekend after the Masters in Augusta, Ga., needs a commitment of between $6.5 million and $8 million to continue, Fraser said. This year, the money is being cobbled together largely through reserves and a $1 million commitment each from Hilton Head and Beaufort County, he said.
He added that Haley and the stateís tourism agency are helping find a corporate sponsor, and hopefully no government support will be needed.
ěBut theyíd be getting a much bigger benefit than what theyíd be paying ó any sponsor, not just the state,î Fraser said.
Rep. Jim Merrill compared the possibility of a loan to incentives that legislators approve to bring or keep industry in the state. The event is essentially a business, he said.
ěIf we have to try to buy them some time to secure a sponsorship, it seems wise,î said Merrill, R-Daniel Island, home to the Family Circle Cup tennis tournament. ěThe loan was never a handout.î
The stateís only other large sporting venue, the Darlington Raceway, lost its traditional end-of-summer NASCAR weekend in 2005, when the Southern 500 moved to California.
If the bill becomes necessary to keep the Heritage here, Merrill said he would again support a loan. The state, which is closing a $700 million shortfall for 2011-12, canít afford to give the money, he said. The bill ěputs us in the position to be proactive.î
But if a sponsor proves elusive, and thereís no hope the event could stand on its own, the state will have to accept the loss, Merrill said.
The Associated Press
03/10/11 15:43